Kayaker attacked by possibly-rabid otter

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A 77-year-old kayaker was recovering Monday after a wild otter attack on the Braden River left her needing stitches and rabies treatments.

Sue Spector said she and her husband, Marty, were kayaking with a group of 10 people early Sunday morning.

"It was very pristine and very nice and I heard someone make a comment that, 'Oh, there's an otter!'" Sue said. "And then all of a sudden he jumped on the kayak and two seconds later he jumped on me."

The animal began clawing, scratching, and biting Sue's arms, nose, and ear. Marty Spector, 78, was in front of his wife at the time.

"I heard someone behind me say, 'Oh look, there's an otter,' then I heard somebody screaming and I realized it was my wife," Marty recalled. "My boat turned over and so I was in the water with a paddle, just trying to beat the otter of her back. It didn't want to come off!"

"I took my paddle and I tried to get him off of me and he wouldn't let go and I kept screaming, I kept beating him with a paddle," Sue continued. "When you're [in the middle of] it you don't have a lot of thought except you hope you survive."

Sue's kayak had also flipped, leaving her neck-deep in water while still battling the otter and worried she might drown.

It eventually let go and other kayakers had to keep it away while the guide, Marsha Wikle, helped the Spectors out of the cold water and back into their kayaks.

"By the time [anyone can come] rescue you, two hours has gone by. You're easily battling hypothermia by that time," Wikle said.

Wikle said she's fortunate to have recently taken a class in how to get someone back into a kayak from deeper water. In this case, she had other kayakers sandwich Sue's kayak in place to keep it steady so she could climb back in.

This attack came a day after another kayaker had to be taken to the hospital after an otter attack.

Florida Fish and Wildlife has now posted a sign at the river's entry behind the Linger Lodge in Bradenton, warning boaters and kayakers of an aggressive otter.

Meanwhile, Sue's hat is shredded and told FOX 13, "by some miracle I don't have any injuries on the top of my head," adding she also feels fortunate she was wearing a life jacket because it protected her back from the otter's claws.

Sue, who visited the emergency room Sunday, is on antibiotics and is being treated for rabies, with four more treatments in her near future.